… on Arriving
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Music : Fun – Carry On
When I left for what would turn out to be four months in Europe almost a year ago, I was emotionally exhausted. I had incurred so many recent changes and turmoil that any emotions I should have been feeling dissolved into cold indifference. I don’t remember thinking about much on the ride to the airport; and it wasn’t until my parents had pulled away, I had checked my bag, and I had my boarding pass to Copenhagen that a smile crept across my face. I was excited; I was finally really doing it.
But then I moved back home. I met a girl and we soon started dating. I shared many fun nights with old friends and easily acclimated back to a level state of comfort, a comfort that I knew travel didn’t afford. So, when it was time to leave again to fulfill the second part of my journey, I procrastinated. I made excuses why I couldn’t go yet or questioned if it was what I really wanted. I had intimate knowledge of the difficulties of long-term travel on the mind and body. You go so through many emotional highs and lows that any rational person would ask themselves if it’s truly worth it to do it all again.
The answer is always a resounding Yes. After almost 24 hours of buses, planes, and airports, landing in Bangkok to start another few months of solo travel was an incredible feeling. Surrounded by an unfamiliar language and foreign customs, I was once again greeted by that bewildering freedom of being totally alone in a strange place with nothing but uncertainty ahead. It’s a high unlike any other to navigate through the yelling tuk tuk and taxi drivers, find a metered taxi stand, just to exchange poor Thai greetings and pleasantries before the first attempts at being scammed occur. “500 baht,” the taxi driver says as I close my door — around $17. a reasonable price for the 45-minute ride into the heart of the city — but I am prepared for this. “Meter na klap,” I respond in my best Thai. My driver offers no resistance, and the meter is switched on.
Leaving the airport, I get my first experience of being only 12 degrees from the equator. A stifling heat chokes the air and makes the air conditioner work extra hard. We pass rows of thatched-roof houses and monks in all orange walking to ornate temples before we jump onto the highway and I get my first glimpses of my destination. My head is spinning from a combination of the heat, motion sickness medication, and jet lag; but I am finally here. I have arrived, and I am ready for all the unknown has to offer.
“My name is Richard. So what else do you need to know? Stuff about my family, or where I’m from? None of that matters. Not once you cross the ocean and cut yourself loose, looking for something more beautiful, something more exciting and, yes, I admit, something more dangerous. So after eighteen hours in the back of an airplane, three dumb movies, two plastic meals, six beers and absolutely no sleep, I finally touch down; in Bangkok.” — The Beach